The Looxcie is one of the silliest products we've seen that isn't a mere concept. It's a wearable Bluetooth camera that records everything — it's meant to document your daily life and create movie clips that can be shared to YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
To find out if the Looxcie provides the ultimate hands-free video recording experience, we embarrassed ourselves to the best of our abilities to test the hell out of this thing — in public. Click on for the full review.
The All-Seeing Third Eye That Sits On Your Ear
The Looxcie looks and works like a Bluetooth headset, because it is a Bluetooth headset that has a camera with a 2.8 aperture lens and 4GB of onboard storage for stashing footage. It can shoot HVGA video (480x320) and handle voice calls. Just like any other Bluetooth headset, its design helps it be as unobtrusive as possible, frees your hands and makes the act of recording video fade from the conscience — or at least that's what you'd expect.
There are only three buttons on the ear piece: power, toggle recording on/off and the instant 30 second clip. To get started, connect the Looxcie to either the LooxcieMoments or LooxcieCam app, turn on the dongle, attach it to your ear, hit record, then go document things. Using the Looxcie is that simple, if only it wasn't
Plagued With Problems
Almost immediately, we knew that we would quarrel with the Looxcie. First, as we mentioned, the Looxcie has two apps that do two completely different things. Why didn't the developers compile the functions from both apps into one? We can only think that it would have been too simple that way.
The LooxcieMoments app can only shoot video at 360p. LooxcieCam can shoot at 480p. The Moments app can edit/trim and share clips to the web, the Cam can't. Moments can save 30 second instant clips, the Cam can't. See where we're getting at? It also doesn't help that both apps have an extremely laggy framerate onscreen viewfinder when recording and playing video.
Generally speaking, the Looxcie sits well in the ear, when it's not trying to fall out. It's almost impossible to keep the camera's lens straight, so recorded video often comes out at an angle.
It's mind-boggling to think that the Looxcie was named one of TIME's "50 Best Inventions of 2010" because it almost never functioned as advertised.
The Hardware and Software Hate Each Other
Maybe TIME was using the Android app, but the iOS model we tried out is buggier than a piece of beta software (it wasn't our iPhone, we did a clean factory restore to iOS 4.2.1 just for the Looxcie). Uploading video is a blind hit or miss. It either worked or it didn't — almost like the Looxcie apps had a brain of their own, deciding when to push video to YouTube and when not to. On and off, we ended up with more failed uploads over 3G and a strong Wi-Fi network than uploads that went through.
Along with upload problems, we had qualms with the Looxcie simply timing out way too frequently. The Bluetooth connection would simply drop sporadically, prompting an irritating notification to press the Looxcie's power button to rejigger the connection. Why was it annoying? Because you can't access either app (not even a smidge) unless it's tethered to the Looxcie.
Also, If the Looxcie's three to four hour battery life dies, you can't play back video, upload saved videos or edit them unless the Looxcie has power again. It's not a hardware oversight — it's a software one. Recorded video should be auto-saved to the iPhone to allow offline editing, but it's not — and that's a damn shame.
Still Good for Voice Calls
The Looxcie might have its priorities reserved for video, but it still functions as a regular Bluetooth for voice calls. We noticed no signs of tinniness or muffling when answering phone calls while recording video, which is good. A Bluetooth should be as crystal clear as the smartphone's earpiece.
The Bottom Line
Throughout the rigorous tests we subjected the Looxcie to, we garnered more looks in New York City's subway, noticed more Halal food carts on the streets and actually paid more attention to a stranger's facial expressions. There's just no way to get around the Looxcie's red recording light or to forget about the act of video recording, because every time you hit that button to generate a 30 second clip, you're reminded again of the documenting act you're performing.
The Looxcie is a decent handsfree camcorder if you're not worried about video quality and only care about capturing "moments" that you might normally miss. But for $200, we can't help but feel you're not getting a video recorder that can archive your life properly, especially when cheap Flip cams that shoot video in high definition 720p can be had for around $100.
To get an idea of what the Looxcie strapped to the side of a head "saw" in our roams around NYC, check out our mashup vid below.